Taxonomy term

january 2014

Warring trolls explanation for mysterious basalt pillars revised

Peculiar basalt pillars found in Iceland — attributed in local lore to a pair of angry trolls hurling projectiles at each other — are having their origin story updated. In a rare example of nonexplosive lava-water interactions occurring on land, the hollow pillars likely formed around vertical columns of steam and superheated water venting through lava as it flowed over saturated ground, according to a new study.

02 Feb 2014

Down to Earth With: Sally Jewell

Most people who find their way into public office start locally, perhaps by running for a seat on the school board or city council. Sally Jewell’s first foray into public service came at the behest of President Obama, who last year nominated her as the 51st Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) — the first Secretary in more than a decade with a background in geoscience.

28 Jan 2014

2013 Front Range Flooding: An Ecological Perspective

The 2013 Colorado floods may have been a record-setting event in human terms, but scientists and resource managers emphasize that what happened along the Front Range was a natural occurrence.

26 Jan 2014

January 26, 1905: The world's largest gem-quality diamond is unearthed

Each day, thousands of visitors to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History view the rare and spectacular Hope Diamond, a 45-carat blue diamond. And dozens of diamonds bigger than the Hope — with names like Excelsior, Incomparable and Jubilee — have also been retrieved, cut and polished to perfection.

26 Jan 2014

When water, gravity and geology collide: Firsthand observations of the impacts of the 2013 Colorado floods

Around almost every bend in the road on our tour of the Colorado Front Range and points downstream in the weeks after the September floods, the physical devastation confronted us like a punch in the gut. Even though we had all seen graphic images on the news, observing the destruction firsthand, especially from a geologic perspective, was truly stunning and humbling.

21 Jan 2014

Disaster strikes along Colorado's Front Range

In early September last year, the weather along Colorado’s Front Range, the urbanized corridor paralleling the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, swung from one extreme to another. The first week of the month was exceptionally hot and dry, with high temperatures averaging 7 to 9 degrees Celsius above normal. For three days in a row, the city of Denver matched or exceeded its record high temperatures, according to National Weather Service (NWS) data.

20 Jan 2014

Humans are influencing some extreme weather events, but not all

In 2012, the world experienced dozens of extreme weather events, including droughts, heat waves, cold spells, extreme rainfalls, big storms like Superstorm Sandy, and a record-low Arctic sea-ice extent. Teasing apart the factors that create extreme weather is a challenge for scientists, especially when it comes to determining whether human-induced climate change plays a role. Recently, 18 different research teams — comprising 80 scientists — took on that challenge.

16 Jan 2014

Climate, terroir, and wine: What matters most in producing a great wine?

Weather and climate have played decisive roles throughout human existence — where and how cultures developed, where they migrated and even how some died out. The most successful early civilizations were those that developed strong agrarian systems based on what crops were most compatible with the climate. If conditions changed for one reason or another, people migrated to areas with a more suitable environment to grow a certain crop or raise specific animals.

09 Jan 2014

Down to Earth With: Naomi Levin

Stable isotope geochemist Naomi Levin, a native New Yorker, says she could easily imagine alternate career paths that would have been more in line with her urban roots. But the hands-on nature of both fieldwork and lab work lured her to geology and anthropology. And after working with a string of prominent geochemists — including Jay Quade, Thure Cerling and John Eiler — as a graduate student and post-doctoral researcher, Levin has quickly moved to the top of her field.

09 Jan 2014

Travels in Geology: Antarctica: Following in the footsteps of giants

In fall 2012, when I told friends and colleagues that I was heading south for a few weeks, they assumed that I, like many other northeasterners, was going to Florida or the Bahamas for a break from winter weather. Instead, I was headed to the iciest and southernmost place on Earth: Antarctica.

02 Jan 2014

Pages